Nylon Nights

NYLON’s Nightlife Writer Hits Every Met Gala Afterparty He Can

Just call it famous-person bingo.

by Tim Latterner

On any other day of the year, the Upper East Side would have been fully asleep for two hours by now. But just before midnight on the first Monday in May, there’s still some electricity flowing as celebrities shift gears from the refined elegance of the Met Gala to the discombobulated debauchery of the afters.

What’s interesting is that while the main event is a tightly guarded affair reserved only for celebrities, dignitaries, and other fancy people, the afterparties are (slightly) more egalitarian — those in the know can score a spot on “the list.” That means you’ll find vastly different vibes and even more different crowds, which in turn means that judging the post-Met-Gala party scene by attending just one would be like trying to determine the year’s best new shows by only watching Paramount+. Therefore, the only course of action, being the responsible journalist I am, was to stay up all night zigzagging across town to four events.

Leaving the Mark Hotel, the closest event is the Ssense and Jean Paul Gaultier party, which is being held at Sapphire, a strip club just under the bridge to Queens. There’s already a mob of people waiting to get in, but the doors are “closed” while organizers assess the situation. There are five people standing outside, four of whom look like they’re fashion-world types with unique, all-black clothes. The fifth is a large man with slicked-back hair and a gold chain who tells anyone who encroaches even slightly toward the velvet ropes that they’re not letting anyone in until 90 people leave. The other people working roll their eyes at one another. It doesn’t take a whole lot to assume that this guy works for the strip club and not Ssense, so I ask one of the others about getting in and give them my name, and soon enough, I’m ushered through.

Ella EmhoffBFA
Rowan BlanchardBFA
Rachel SennottBFA
1 / 4
1 / 4

To the slick-haired man’s credit, it is pretty packed inside. Strobes and laser lights shine through the steam wafting in the air, and the bar is damp with spilled vodka sodas. Rachel Sennott and Ella Emhoff cruise through the crowd, which is definitely younger, downtown, and fashion-y. I run into Marika Thunder, a friend of a friend and a wonderful artist. She says she’s excited that JT might perform later, but I can’t stay that long.

The next stop is WSA, all the way downtown on Water Street, where Emily Ratajkowski is hosting AprèsMet. WSA usually looks an office from an ’80s movie — lots of chrome and angled stairwells — but after tonight’s install, it has a hazy, dreamlike atmosphere with drippy taper candles, flowing white tablecloths, and a carefully crafted tower of hundreds of champagne coupes. It’s a glitzy crowd, too. After getting a drink, I plop down on a large daybed surrounded by fluff made to resemble a cloud. Jodie Turner-Smith, Charlie XCX, and Jaden Smith all pass by.

Kendall JennerBFA
Lana Del Rey & Séan McGirrBFA
Marc Jacobs & Charli XCXBFA
Carlos Nazario, Emily Ratajkowski, Paloma Elsesser & Raul LopezBFA
1 / 4
1 / 4

The bathrooms at WSA are on a lower floor, where large disco balls are scattered on the ground. As I walk back toward the elevators, a couple exit and accidentally punt one of the hollow disco balls straight in my direction. I catch it with catlike reflexes, realizing that if I’d dodged it instead, it would have shattered a glass door behind me. We all laugh about it and exchange empty promises to see one another at the next party. I take my agility with the disco ball to mean I’m up for the challenge.

Half a mile down the road is Casa Cipriani, where Richie Akiva is pulling out all the stops for the 10th anniversary of “The After.” Here, too, there’s a horde of people trying to get in. Typically, the publicists who invite guests in the first place handle the list outside, but at Casa Cipriani, the four men working the door definitely do not do PR. (If I had to guess, I would assume they break legs professionally.) “I’m actually working this event,” a man in a lime-green suit tells a security worker from Bay Ridge. “I dressed [name redacted], so this is really like a job for me. We’ve been here the last two years, and you’re clearly still letting people in.” The large man looks at him flatly and just says, “I just have one question for you: Why are you telling me this? I’m not the doorman. I’m not going to help you.”

Rupert Ramsay/
Rupert Ramsay/
1 / 2
1 / 2

Before long, a publicist whisks me from the line, and I leave these wayward souls behind. Walking up the floral steps, the first person I lock eyes with is Serena Williams. We inch past each other and smile while I resist the urge to tell her how much I’m obsessed with her life and career. Upstairs, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade walk by, while Teyana Taylor stands near the bar. Winnie Harlow is dancing up a storm in the center of the floor. Near the step-and-repeat, a designer I know says he just saw Leonardo DiCaprio and Lil Nas X. On the fringes of the main hall, New York’s normal nightlife crowd is here for the show, too. Marilu Cancel, the woman who runs the door of The Nines and Acme, is sipping a drink alongside Teddy Quinlivan and Dante Cardenas, who host the monthly-ish Inferno party at Jean’s on Lafayette. They’re all snacking on Neat Burger fries and vegan ice cream. At each table, there’s a candle that says “Carby Musk for ‘The After,’” which guests are secretly slipping into coat pockets or large purses. People are stepping outside to smoke on the balcony, over which I can see the same faces waiting to get in as before.

It’s getting late and time to start heading north. I walk a few blocks east until I hail a cab, but I don’t make it north of Houston before friends text me that Usher’s “Secret Garden” party at the Edition Hotel is getting lively. Walking up, I see the hilarious comedian and writer Amber Ruffin, for whom I interned in college. Then, in the lobby, I see Zach Weiss, a reporter-cum-raconteur who’s just leaving to go to Casa Cipriani. “It’s fun up there,” he says. “Definitely worth it.”

The party is split into a few zones: There’s a packed dance floor with a DJ hard at work on the turntables, and a larger room that’s blessedly well-lit and airy, where people can hear and see each other. Usher is in the center of the latter, holding court. To his left is a large bodyguard holding a basket of fries that Usher would reach over and take from. To Usher’s right is a man doing card tricks to Usher’s amazement. Not a magician, mind you, but rather just a guy who left the house in a tuxedo thinking “Of course I’m bringing the cards. Usher’s gonna love this.” With that trick, it’s time to call it a night. The sun’s about to come up, and I have a draft due in the morning.